North East lockdown: Delight over childcare u-turn

Council chiefs in South Tyneside have welcomed a Government u-turn on childcare arrangements which will allow people to look after youngsters and vulnerable adults from outside of their household.

Authorities from across the North East had urged Health Secretary Matt Hancock to reverse regulations and allow people to enter other households for the purposes of childcare while the main carer was at work.

Local lockdown restrictions in the borough will be eased to allow people to look after children or vulnerable adults from outside their household.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged that such arrangements were a “lifeline” for many people, and without them they were unable to do their jobs.

The Government u-turn on childcare has been welcomed by Cllr Malcolm.

But he said the exemption would not allow parents to send their children to “playdates or parties” with friends from another household.

The Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, said: “It is very welcome news that the government has listened to our concerns and lifted the restrictions on informal childcare which was something we originally asked for and have been lobbying hard for on behalf of our residents.

“We know that many working parents in the Borough- including key workers - rely on family and friends to provide informal childcare support and that not all can afford to pay for formal childcare.

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“While we await the final details, this news will be undoubtedly be welcomed by many families across the Borough. . It is just a shame that hard-working families have had to bear additional stress as a result of the Government not heeding our advice last week when we asked for informal childcare arrangements to be exempt from the restrictions.”

Mr Hancock told MPs: “I’ve heard their concerns about the impact of local action on childcare arrangements

“For many, informal childcare arrangements are a lifeline without which they couldn’t do their jobs.

“So today I’m able to announce a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, where that is necessary for caring purposes.

“This covers both formal and informal arrangements.

“It does not allow for playdates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship, that is vital for somebody to get to work, is allowed.”